Most children get all of their primary teeth between the ages of 6 months and 2 1/2 to 3 years of age, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Primary teeth are the 20 teeth that children grow during this period. Starting around 6 months of age, babies begin to grow teeth from the front to the back, on both the top and bottom of their mouths.
Around 8 months of age, a baby's top row of teeth fill in from front to back, starting with the two front teeth, according to the American Dental Association. These teeth are called the central incisors. From there, children receive their lateral incisors, canines and first molars, all within the first nine to 24 months of their life. They might not grow second molars around their second birthday. This depends on their individual development, and might happen closer to age 3.
The bottom row of teeth are on a similar schedule as the top teeth, coming in from the front to the back of the mouth. Children start growing their front bottom teeth, the central incisors, around 6 months old, according to the American Dental Association. Next, parents can expect to see, in order, the lateral incisors, canines, and first molars according. The second molars might appear anytime within the 23rd and 31st months.
"Absence of baby teeth occurs in 0.5% to 0.9% of the population," according to Pediatric Dental Health. These primary teeth are vital for the baby's development because they help with chewing and speaking, according to pediatric dentist Manish Valiathan, writing at SummitSpecialists.com. They also hold a spot for the adult, permanent teeth, which is why children with missing baby teeth often get a "space maintainer." This device is placed between the baby teeth, by a dentist, to hold the natural space for the future adult tooth, according to Valiathan. If the parent has concerns about a delayed or possibly missing baby tooth, they should speak to the child's dentist in case the child needs a space maintainer.
Once parents see the new teeth poking out of the gums, they might wonder how to take care of them. For a baby with only a few teeth, the best method is to use a wet gauze-wrapped finger to clean off the gums and teeth, according to Ask Dr. Sears. As the child gets more teeth and can tolerate a toothbrush in her mouth, parents should help her brush her teeth using a small, soft toothbrush with a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste, according to a KidsHealth article.
- NC Department of Health and Human Services: Tip Top Teeth for Your 1-2 Year Old
- KidsHealth: Your Child's Check-Up: 2 Years
- Ask Dr. Sears: Teach Toothbrushing
- American Dental Association: Tooth Eruption -- The Primary Teeth
- Dental Resource: Pediatric Dental Health
- Summit Specialists: Baby and Toddler Teeth
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images